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Agent Ruby: Hoe je als museum een website kunt archiveren


Agent Ruby (San Francisco MOMA)

— Jill Sterrett is hoofd Collectie en Conservatie bij het San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. Ze was in Nederland voor de expertmeeting Born Digital Art Preservation bij NIMk.

She was invited to the Netherlands on the joint request of Virtueel Platform, DEN, SBMK and NIMk to participate in two important events in the field of the preservation of digital born art.

Virtueel Platform has commissioned a research project in collaboration with DEN, SBMK and NIMk carried out under the leadership of Annet Dekker in to the preservation of digital born art in Dutch museums.

Jill was one of the keynote speakers on June 28th at an international expert meeting organised to provide input in to the research process.

Jill Sterrett at NIMk

The meeting:
The meeting raised issues such as Is there a need to rethink what it means to preserve an art work? Can documentation take the place of preservation? Or should born digital art be considered as a process of components, and as such be treated in a similar way to a performance or theatre? How do museums deal with these challenges and what strategies are they developing?

Three case studies that challenge conventional conservation methods and ask for new solutions in order to safeguard the works for the future were examined.

The goal of the meeting was clearly set: to share and exchange knowledge with international experts from different backgrounds, (including computer science, archeology, gaming, contemporary arts, conservation and performance) from across Europe and the US. With that purpose, after a short introduction, three independent case studies were presented and after that the attendees where divided in three working groups.

The presentation: a SFMOMA case:
Jill Sterrett presented a case study from the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art about the conservation of an art piece called “Agent Ruby” by Lynn Hershman Leeson, developed in 1999-2002, and acquired by the museum in 2008, consisting of a website interface and an artificial intelligence brain. Sterrett introduced the audience to how the conservation of that born digital art work was a triple challenge for her organisation. Her talk also highlighted the importance of documentation as an entity that lives alongside the art work itself.

Her talk and later contributions to the group discussions where highly valuable to all attendees (colleagues and academics), combining as it did both a theoretical command of the subject and experience in the field.

Below an overview of all those who attended the expert meeting on 27th June.

SMBK day:
Jill Sterrett also presented on 28th June to the 'SMBK day’, at the Centraal Museum in Utrecht, a day long of talks and activities where she gave a talk about inventive approaches to conservation, see The event was attended by some 85 Dutch experts in the conservation of modern art. The text of the SBMK meeting contains the following quote about Jill's presentation:

‘Diverse, unorthodox and ephemeral varieties of contemporary art call for inventive approaches to conservation. These approaches contribute to active transformations happening in museums today. From their conception to broad adoption, the path that these inventive art conservation approaches take to becoming common practice is the subject of this talk. Innovation uptake in other industries, such as high technology and environmental stewardship, will be explored for potential insights that will serve our ongoing and responsive engagement with art.’


Bas Mühren - Kroller Muller
Caspar Martens - Groninger Museum
Frank Hoenjet - Gemeentemuseum Helmond
Gabriella Giannachi - University Exeter
Gaby Wijers - NIMk
Gert Hoogeboom - Stedelijk Museum
Jacqueline Rapmund - Museum Boymans van Beuningen
Len van den Berg - Centraal Museum
Louis Baltussen - Van Abbemuseum
Hanna Holling - indep. conservator & UvA PhD candidate
Patricia van den Ende - SCHUNCK
Pip Laurenson - Tate
Simone Vermaat - ICN
Tabea Lurk - HKB-BFH
Tinie Kerseboom - Rijksakademie
Tom van Gestel - SKOR
Valerie Schuit - Viewpoint Productions
Vivian van Saaze - University Maastricht
Xander Karskens - De Hallen



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